Eastwood Hanley Revisited
This post follows on from : Eastwood Hanley
I read your blog on Eastwood Hanley which I found very interesting. I’m not a groundhopper, but I used to live in North Staffs and have long regretted never going to watch Eastwood Hanley, I thought I’d go and see if anything was left and visited the ground on 20 February 2007.
So he visited their former home, all the way up from his home somewhere in Surrey, I believe, and very kindly sent me his photos, with his permission to publish them. His photos were excellent and show the old ground in much better light than my pictures from my previous post. He also supplied some nuggets of information regarding the club, that I didn’t know and couldn’t find on the web.
One thing he cleared up, that had me puzzled, was that they spent their last few seasons groundsharing; first with Kidsgrove Athletic at the Stan Brown Stadium, and then for the last couple of seasons at the Lyme Valley Stadium, home of Newcastle Town. It explains why when I first visited in 1995, the ground was derelict, but they didn’t actually fold until 1997. Martin explained that their ground was, sadly, subject to frequent vandalism, probably from being in such a secluded area. It is a similar story to that of another former non-league side of some repute, South Liverpool, whose ground suffered the same problems with frequent vandalism.
This was the badge of Eastwood Hanley. When Martin came to visit he also took some pictures of the regeneration taking place in South Hanley, the area of the old Eastwood works, and would have been the prime catchment area for fans. (I used to live there myself above a chip shop!) It is so poignant that the only thing still standing south of the canal is two bottle ovens, eerily similar looking to the two in the team’s badge. These bottle ovens are now listed buildings which is why the builders are having to work round them. It is a shame they weren’t listed earlier, as sadly, lots were knocked down. They are such an unusual and unique backdrop to the potteries. There are still around 70 left, but you have to look for them now. They will certainly provide an architectural and historical focal point to the new canal-side living apartments and cycle paths that are planned for the area.
In old pictures of the potteries, in the fifties and earlier, the skyline was awash with these bottle ovens, pouring out black smoke into a funereal sky. It looked like something out of an HG Wells novel.
It’s just a shame football teams can’t be listed, like buildings.
Here are some pictures taken of the ground.
This is behind the East Goal.
This is behind the North Terrace
This is what’s left of the North Terrace
This is the West Side collapsed cover from two different angles.
Martin also found Eastwood Hanley’s entry in the non-league directory of 1990. It confirms that there was seating for 200, covered accommodation for 2,500 and a capacity of 5,000. It also cites their inception as 1946, rather than the 1965 I was led to believe from their entry on the web’s non-league directory.
I have, since my last visit managed to pick up one of their programs; a Northern League match against Fleetwood. Martin now has 3 in his collection. One of which is below. Their programs certainly went for vibrant colours! This is in the same style as the one I have – I think it looks excellent.
Here is another. If anything, even more vibrant!
Another reader, and author of the Pie & Mushy Peas site, Simple Pieman remembers seeing a good Eastwood Hanley side play Rushden & Diamonds in an FA Cup match, and notes the irony of the rise of the home side to the league in comparison to the demise of the away side. As mentioned in the original post Eastwood Hanley played at a high level for a number of seasons, and it’s a shame they couldn’t sustain their ground or their status in the non-league pyramid. With all the regeneration work in the area and the disillusionment at the high prices creeping down into the Championship and League One, to watch Stoke Ciy and Port Vale, they would probably have the ability to draw substantial crowds.
I may well approach whoever’s in charge of the canalside developent and see if they can’t do something with Trentmill Road. I’ll bribe them with a promise of a lifelong season ticket for when I get them back into the Unibond!